One of the holiest Hindu shrines in Nepal, the Pashupatinath Temple is stretched across both the banks of the beautiful and sacred Bagmati River on the eastern fringes of the capital city of Kathmandu. The magnificent sanctum devoted to Lord Shiva draws in thousands of devotees who come to offer their prayers and seek blessings from him. Sprawled over a large area with temples and ashrams, it is believed that the Jyotirlinga housed in the Pashupatinath temple is the head of the body which is made up of the twelve Jyotirlinga in India. In 1979, the magnificent temple was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
One of the most ancient Buddhist Temples in Lumbini, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Maya Devi Temple is one of the most well-known temples which is known as the birthplace of Gautam Buddha. The temple is situated in the middle of the park grounds called Lumbini Development Zone, it’s continuous developments making it a must-visit attraction.
Perched on top of the Semgu Hill located in the outskirts to the west of the Kathmandu Valley, Swayambhu Temple temple is one of the most important eligious shrines in the city of Kathmandu. With a wite dome stupa and an array of shrines, this place draws people to it daily. Circumnavigating the temple in a clockwise direction is a common practice among the pilgrims since it is believed to wash away all the sins. The sanctum is one of the holiest sites among the Buddhists and Tibetans and is second only to the Lord Boudha for them.
Situated at a distance of 22 kilometres from Kathmandu, the Dakshinkali Temple is located only a kilometre away from the village of Pharping. The place of worship is one of the most important temples in Nepal and is dedicated to the fierce and feared Goddess Kali. The fame of this temple lies in its rituals and traditions. Twice a week, animals are sacrificed at this religious place - uncastrated male goats and cockerels in particular – as an offering to the ferocious spouse of Lord Shiva. The temple was built in 1855 by Rani Rashmoni, a devotee of Kali.
Changu Narayan is a synonymous word with both the old Nepalese temple and the village that surrounds it. Located in the Bhaktapur district some 12 km east of Kathmandu, the existence of this temple is more or less the only reason the village called Changu Narayan is known to the outside world. Changu Narayan has an authentic Newari style architecture very true to its roots. With its two storey brick-red edifice, the beautiful temple perches atop a hill which is also called Changu or sometimes Dolagiri.
Famous for its enigmatic stone carved statue of Lord Vishnu in a resting position, the open-air Budhanilkantha Temple is definitely an architectural marvel of Nepal. The statue, which is over 1000 years old, is carved out of a single block of black stone and lies in a recessed pool of water.
According to the local legend, a farmer and his wife once stuck the statue while cultivating the land and blood started to flow. This led to the discovery of the water figure of Budhanilkantha deity which floats in water. Another legend states that the statue was brought to Kathmandu during the reign of Vishnu Gupta in the seventeenth century. Thousands of pilgrims visit Kathmandu to attend the Haribondhini Ekadashi Mela, which takes place on the 11th day of Hindu month of Kartik (October / November) and celebrate the awakening on Lord Vishnu from a very long sleep.
Timings: Open all days - 3:00 AM to 7:00 PM. For Darshana, visit between 4:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
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The thing about Nepal is that you can never run out of spiritual places to visit. And yet most of them are old temples with the same archaic architecture and follows a typical path of devotion. Shashwat Dham, on the other hand, is completely different, both in terms of ambience and philosophy practised in the establishment. In the calm and composed premises of Shashwat Dham, spirituality finds a new home and an evolved meaning altogether. The temple and ashram complex is located in the beautiful surroundings of Devchuli region of Nawalprasi district in south-central Nepal, on the east-west Mahendra Highway only 23 kilometres from the twin city of Bharatpur-Narayangarh. The sprawling expanse of Shashwat Dham spreads over 12 acres of land. Given the central shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva, this could be a subtle token of reference to the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva that we know of.
Situated at a distance of about 11 kilometres from the city centre of Kathmandu, Boudhanath Stupa dominates the Kathmandu skyline with its gargantuan spherical shape. Thousands of pilgrims from different religions gather here daily. They perform a ritualistic circumnavigation, known as the 'kora', of the colossal dome. It is believed that anyone who circumambulates the stupa with no ill thoughts in their hearts receives good karma. Moreover, the gates of hell are permanently closed for them!
Dantakali Temple was built in the honour of Goddess Parvati. It is located in Bijayapur Village located about 3 kilometres away from the centre of Dharan city in Nepal. The attraction is also considered to be a significant Shakti Peeth. This temple mainly attracts devotees on the occasion of Dashain, which is an auspicious Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil.
Dedicated to Goddess Sita, Janaki Mandir is the biggest temple in Nepal. The dominant tourist attraction of Janakpur is constructed at the place where Goddess Sita was born. The attraction is now considered as a religiously important monument and a heritage site but is still an active temple for devotees. Anybody seeking a slice of the legend of Ramayana must visit the divine Janaki Temple.
Jagannath Temple is the oldest structure in the Durbar Square area, claimed to have been constructed by Pratap Malla, but historical evidence suggests that it was built by Mahendra Malla, back in 1563. The two-storeyed temple is built on a three-tiered platform and is famous for the erotic carvings on its roof. Apart from its historical and religious importance, get ready to be surprised by the intricate carvings on the walls.
Timings: Open all days - 24 hours
Situated on the west branch of Bagmati River, between Pashupatinath and Gujeshwori Temples, Kirateshwar Mahadev is one of the many dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is a legacy of the Kirant Dynasty of Nepal Valley. According to the gurus present here, Kirantis prayed and buried the dead at Kirateshwar. Although the architecture is simple, what's interesting is the Nepali music concert that is held every full moon night. Enjoy your evening with some soothing music produced by classical instruments like tabla, flute, and sitar. Entry is free.
Timings: Attend the musical concert on full moon nights, from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
This architectural marvel of Nepal, locally known as Maru Sattal, built in pagoda-style architecture and believed to be made out of a single tree, collapsed during the 2015 earthquake. The initial attempts at its reconstruction were put off due to protests from public and conservationists demanding originality. The rebuilding has now kicked off and will certainly be completed by 2021.
It is believed that Kathmandu got its name from Kasthamandapa, which may have been built in the 7th century, the oldest temple built in the Lichhavi period - proving its historical significance.
Located on the embarkments of Bagmati River near Pashupatinath Mandir, Guhyeshwari Temple is one of the many Shakti Peeths which holds immense significance among many Hindus and Tantric practitioners. King Mala built this temple in the 17th century. It is believed that after the self-immolation of Sati, Shiva wandered, carrying the corpse on his shoulder. Wherever the parts of that body fell, Shakti Peeths originated. Arguably, this temple is where Sati's knowledge (Guhya) fell and hence originated the Guhyeshwari Shakti Peeth.
Only Hindus are allowed to enter the shrine where the goddess is worshipped in a water container called Kalash, which is covered with a layer of silver and gold. Built in the Bhutanese pagoda-style architecture, the exterior of the temple is quite simple, but the walls and pillars are adorned with flower motifs and beautiful patterns.
Timings: Open all days - 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM
Located on a hilltop, the Vajrayogini or Bajrayogini Temple is a Tantrik Temple dedicated to the Buddhist Tantric Goddess in Nepal. It is also known as Bodhisattva's Temple and is situated in Sankhu, a small place in the Kathmandu Valley. One needs to climb a stone stairway to reach the temple complex, but once there, every visitor is bound to be fascinated with the beauty of the ancient temple complex that includes stonework, wood carvings, metalwork, smaller temples, caves and a stupa belonging to the time of Buddha Shakyamuni.
Seto Machindranath Temple is a Hindu and Buddhist temple located in Jana Bahal. The temple is believed to be built around 10th century and houses the idol of Seto Machindranath, also known as Janabaha Dyo. During the month of Chaitra, a three days long chariot procession festival of the Lord is held here.
The ancient Bindhyabasini Temple in Pokhara stands on top of a small hill. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga, an incarnation of Devi Parvati. The Goddess worshipped is in the form of a Shaligram. According to a local legend, King Siddhi Narayan Shah bought the idol from Bindhyachal in India.
Tal Barahi Temple, also known as Lake Temple or Varahi Temple is a two-storey pagoda temple located on a small island on Phewa Lake in Pokhara. Dedicated to Goddess Varahi, who is an incarnation of Goddess Durga, both Hindu and Buddhist followers visit here for worship. It is believed that the temple was built by King Kulmandhan Shah because of a dream that he saw. The main shrine set has traditional pagoda type architecture mostly made of wood, bricks and stone and has a premise large enough to accommodate a number of devotees. The premise also has decent seats where one can sit for a moment or two before heading back to the city. When visiting the Phewa Lake, sailing to the island and exploring the temple is much recommended.
Now that we've listed the temples in Nepal, which of these will you be adding to your itinerary.
This post was published by Joysurjya Hagjer